by Rick Winterson
Tuesday evening at 6 p.m., a ZOOM meeting began, which concerned the major project at 776 Summer Street. This ZOOM meeting explained the first onsite step, called “Deconstruction,” in developing the property where the Edison Power Plant now sits – at the 776 Summer Street address, from the Dedicated Freight Corridor near the Reserved Channel, and extending around the corner of East First Street. The developer of this property is Hilco Redevelopment Partners (HRP), who acquired the property five years ago.
The property to be developed was once called the Edison Power Plant, or just “the Edison”. L Street Station was another name it had. South Boston Online will refer to it as HRP’s development or as “776 Summer Street”, the address of the site.
HRP is intentionally calling the first phase of their project “Deconstruction”, because they want to emphasize that it will be done very slowly and cautiously, with great care. The safety of both the surrounding neighborhood and HRP’s onsite workforce will be first and foremost in HRP’s deconstruction planning. It will be carried out much more slowly and carefully than the usual demolition work on new buildings. For example, no explosives will be used, and no “drops” of materials or structures will be allowed. Everything will be placed on the ground level carefully with the right equipment; all debris will be removed from each section of the deconstruction site as it is generated.
According to the ZOOM information from HRP, the deconstruction operations will last for 20 months – until about mid-year in 2023. HRP has broken this down into seven separate steps. These steps range from site set-up (like erecting scaffolds), Regulated Materials Abatement (like asbestos control and safe removal), preservation of some existing buildings, and eventually, final grading of the entire site. The original coal storage area will be deconstructed in the first few months.
The #7 bus stop on L/Summer Street will be kept open during deconstruction. However, the sidewalk along the east side of Summer Street (next to the HRP site) will be closed to pedestrians from the First Street stoplight, almost all of the way to the stoplight at the Dedicated Freight Corridor. For maximum safety, pedestrians should make it a point to cross Summer Street only at these lights. Later on in the 20-month deconstruction, sidewalks along the Power Plant side of First Street will also be closed.
In addition to safety considerations, HRP spoke about onsite rodent control, noise level compliance, dust abatement (with water sprays), and even vibration that could possible affect onsite and offsite structures nearby. In addition to their own environmental consultant, HRP is employing an independent consultant as a site reviewer – GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc. from Norwood – as well as agreeing to keep their site open to unannounced reviews by the appropriate City and State agencies.
At the close of the presentation, District 2 City Councilor Ed Flynn voiced both his concerns and a challenge to HRP, referring to damages to neighborhood health from the original power plant and insisting that there should be no severe neighborhood impact from this project. Specifically, he insisted on daily, not bi-weekly, rodent control. Rep. David Biele echoed Flynn’s comments and added his concern about nearby Massport and its longshoremen. Councilor-at-Large Michael Flaherty emphasized the need for HRP to communicate for sure (“We’ll be watching.”).
South Boston Online has subscribed to regular information from HRP and the 776 Summer Street development. We will attempt to update you as the deconstruction progresses. If you want to ask environmental questions yourself, log onto LStreet@gza.com. In an emergency, call 617-517-5235. There are employment opportunities with HRP at 776 Summer Street also. Get in touch with Mass Fallen Heroes about their Veteran’s Edge program or with Building Pathways for information on apprenticeships.